The Spectacle Blog

The Truth Gets Weirder in Mississippi Runoff Controversy

Charges, counter-charges, retractions galore.

By on 8.6.14 | 5:34PM

The controversies in the runoff for the Republican Senate nomination in Mississippi refuse to die down. Since the unfavorable results for Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel came in, there has been a suicide of a Tea Party leader, lawsuits filed, accusations of fraud from both sides.

On Monday, McDaniel, who lost the race to incumbent Senator Thad Cochran, filed a challenge to the results. As reported by the L.A. Times:

McDaniel’s attorney Mitchell Tyner Sr. said Monday that as many as 3,500 votes were cast in violation of state rules — presumably Democrats who voted for their own candidate in the primary, then crossed over to vote for a Republican in the runoff. Another 9,500 ballots, he said, had irregularities. […] 

In this case, McDaniel is challenging the executive committee of the Mississippi Republican Party, which under state law has 10 days to decide whether to hear the case. After that, McDaniel can bring his grievance to the courts.

To further complicate matters, those outrageous radio ads tying McDaniel to the Ku Klux Klan, which some have attributed to GOP establishment skullduggery, might be anything but. According to the Washington Examiner:

A Democratic activist has claimed responsibility for controversial radio ads that attempted to tie Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel to the Ku Klux Klan.

Ruth Harris, 65, of Jackson, Miss., said she and five other like-minded Democratic women pooled their resources to fund three radio spots urging voters to support Sen. Thad Cochran over McDaniel, a state senator, in Mississippi’s contentious June 24 GOP primary runoff.

Harris’ claim counters charges leveled by the McDaniel campaign that the Republican Establishment and GOP operative Henry Barbour were responsible for the ads. […]

“It was a group of ladies and I,” she said. “I don’t know how the Barbours even got [mentioned.] I’ve never met any of them.”

Then come the counter-accusations from team Cochran. According to the Daily Beast

The claims of Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel that six-term incumbent Thad Cochran somehow stole the Republican Senate runoff in June have always centered on the accusation that the Cochran campaign paid a Meridian man named Stevie Fielder to buy votes of African-American Democrats at $15 a head. However, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Attorney General told local reporters on Tuesday night that Fielder was actually bribed by Noel Fritsch, McDaniel’s communications director, to lie about vote buying and implicate Cochran. […]

In a statement to The Daily Beast, Fritsch denied the accusation. “[Conservative blogger] Charles Johnson paid for the texts & emails Cochran/Wicker staffer Saleem Baird sent that prove Cochran bought Democrat votes,” said the McDaniel staffer.

Which brings us to Johnson, who first aired the vote-buying allegations. He has written for the Spectator and the Daily Caller, but has been dinged for mistakes in his reporting on Cory Booker’s residency and accidental reporting of a satirical campus newspaper as if it were real. He also picks fights in the style of a firebrand activist—accusing the NRSC of being responsible for the Tea Party leader’s suicide and asking his supporters crash Cochran campaign conference call. One Business Insider writer calls Johnson a “professional troll.” 

As the truth gets weirder, events in Mississippi begin to look more and more like an episode of the Jerry Springer show.

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